Tape Loop Experiments 1981-1982
Topics Taped Rugs Productions
, Charles Rice Goff III
, Steve Schaer
, Tape Loops
, Avant Garde
, San Francisco Bay Area
, sound collage
, for fans of John Cage
, for fans of The Residents
Tape Loop Experiments 1981-1982
Throughout 1981 and 1982, Charles Rice Goff III and Steve Schaer, otherwise known as the San Francisco Bay Area sonic performing duo called "-ING," explored the boundaries of where a Frippertonic-style tape loop system could lead. They became intimately familiar with the workings of their tape recorders. They experimented with inputting a wide variety of instruments and prerecorded sounds into their system. They incorporated other musicians to play with them as tape loop trios and quartets. Because there was no method for Goff and Schaer to learn the potentials of their tape loop system other than by trial and error, many of the recordings made during this period could best be described as “spotty.” The best of the “spots,” however, were nothing less than the embodied definition of experimental music.
Setting up –ING’s tape loop system in different ways made for big differences in the outcomes of –ING’s sonic experiments. This archive contains a pdf diagram of the setup that Goff and Schaer used most often.
Small variations in recording levels, especially for the repeated loops, produced dramatically different results as well. Grooves and themes were often obliterated by buildups of feedback from the repeated loop recording process. As they gained experience, Goff and Schaer learned how to manipulate recording levels on-the-fly to enhance their recordings without ruining good improvisations.
The two reel-to-reel tape recorders that –ING used during this period were not made by the same manufacturers. This meant that one tape recorder would often run faster than the other. If the deck that pulled the tape forward (the playback deck) ran slower than the recording deck, eventually the tape would go slack, and the automatic shutdown mechanism would bring an abrupt end to the recording (while the other tape deck continued to spin, spewing tape all over the floor). If the playback deck was operating faster than the recording deck, the tape would physically “squeeze” through the system, creating a unique quality of recorded sound that –ING referred to as “toothpaste.”
Over time, Goff and Schaer learned to make the most of these mechanical quirks. They practiced manipulating (grabbing, tapping, and twisting with their hands) the reels of tape as they spun around. This process often created interesting loops which served as one-of-a-kind sonic canvasses on which to paint sounds. It also just as often ruined interesting ebbs and flows of sound.
Probably the foremost skill that –ING developed during 1981-82 was timing. Since every sound which entered the tape loop system repeated, one poorly timed note, buzz, or click could make all the well-timed sounds in a loop seem suddenly unappealing. By the end of 1982, –ING had mastered its timing, and Goff and Schaer began rehearsing tape loop compositions which could be repeatedly performed for live audiences.
Archived here are some of the best spots of its spotty –ING recordings made during this period. Goff and Schaer culled these excerpts from literally miles of tape and gave them each names in late 1982. Some of these recordings were played on radio broadcasts in the San Francisco Bay Area around the time of their creation. A few of these pieces were later released by Taped Rugs on the cassettes: “Eternity Is Now” (1997), “Remnants From Magic Carpets”(co-released by EE Tapes, Belgium, 1998), “Stays Crunchy To The Bottom Of The Brain” (1999), and the CDR “-Ingtrospection” (2002). The piece entitled: “Trip To The White House” also appeared on the Red Neon (Belgium) compilation cassette “New Hippies Volume 14”, released during the late 1990s.
1 Little Magnet (vocals from Brian Eno lecture)
2 Rosie Notes (with percussionist Vernon Lawton)
3 Mommie What's A Matain?
4 Kerosene Soaked Rag
5 Psychic Steven
6 Animals (Even Snakes)
7 Help Me Somebody
8 Sbass Guitar
9 Mushroom Showdown (with Killr Kaswan)
10 One Of The Most Interesting Things (with Killr Kaswan)
11 Catchup And Mustard Seeds Again (with Killr Kaswan)
12 They Modify Each Other
13 All Over My Feet
14 Dark Glasses
15 Whistle While You Werke
16 Construction Taper
17 Trip To The White House
18 Please Pass The Sedatives With Some Water
19 Seeming Steaming
20 You Just Don't Understand
21 Staple The Chicken
23 Rap & Roll
Copyright 1981, 1982, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002
by Taped Rugs Productions